Greg McDermott Q&A

His first season at ISU probably hasn't gone as well as he'd hoped, but about as well as can be expected given the roster he inherited.

Q: Watching the end of the Texas game, it was obvious that your players continued to play hard, continued to feel like they could compete, until Durant got that block shot at the end, you almost felt as a fan watching that the team had a shot, describe the type of character it takes for your players, to continue competing under those type of circumstances?

A: Well it's something we attempt to instill in them each day in practice, we will never quit. We might not be a lot of things, but what we won't be is quitters. We'll continue to do what we've been taught to do, and continue to depend on each other and count on each other until the final horn goes off. As a result of that, we've had a couple great come from behind wins this year at Minnesota and at Missouri, where most people probably counted us out, but the guys kept playing. I really felt like we had all of the momentum at Texas, we just ran out of time in the end and obviously Texas made some plays down the stretch as well, but I ws proud of the guys, they put us in a position to win that game.

Q: Are you seeing the kind of mental mistakes made in the beginning of the season disappear, or are they reoccurring in your mind?

A: "Well they are not occurring as often as they did in November and December, and free throw shooting was a big deal in the Drake loss, it was a big deal when we lost of KU at home, because we made 8 of 19 that game. Free throw shooting in my mind is so much preparation and if the guys get in and they do the job out side of practice time, getting free throws up in their spare time, that problem is going to take care of itself. Fortunately, at least as of late we have shot free throws pretty well."

Q: What can be done to address the mental lapses that have plagued this team?

A: "Well, its repetition in practice, and it's making a commitment to yourself to not make the same mistake over and over again, and that's part of learning and that's part of building a program, these guys are playing in a system that's new to them and they are playing with players that are new to them, and anytime you do that there is a period of transition where its going to take some time to learn how each other plays and learn what my teammates strengths are and learn what I can bring to the team. Part of our problem in terms to turnovers, mental lapses and errors, sometimes we try to make too much happen and then try to put too much on our shoulders. It's done for all the right reasons, we're trying to make plays for our team, and sometimes we need to count a little more on our teammates."

Q: What things are you having them work on individually to improve as the season continues? Hubalek is developing some nice up and under moves, are those things you have been working on with them or are those moves that he had in his repertoire, but just never used?

A: "In practice we always attempt to do some individual skill work with each practice, whether it is ball handling or recognizing defenses, or getting a lot of shots up and working on the footwork for the shots that come within the scope of our offense, so our guys are constantly doing that and we've made some good strides in that area. Jiri's development has been out of necessity,  we needed someone who could score on the low block, and Jiri was our best option, and to his credit, he sacrificed some of his face-up game, and has really worked hard to give us a legitimate low scoring threat on the block, and when he's played well and he's been a factor there, we've had a chance to win games. When it hasn't gone as well there we've struggled, so he understands the importance he has with this team, and he's had a very unselfish approach of what we've asked him to do."

Q: What type of player is ideal for your system?

A: "Well it depends on the position. Obviously we've had success with players in the past that have had a high basketball IQ, that really understand the game, and that will learn the fundamental aspects of the game so that from a fundamental standpoint we don't make many mistakes, and that's something we've made progress on with this current team, but we've still got a long ways to go. Its just going to take a while to get our system in place, and that's the most important message I think for our fans, we're making progress, its not visible in the win and loss column right now, but as we watch our practice tapes, as we watch our game tapes, there are strides being made."

Q: What is your philosophy of red-shirting?

A: "Well I'd love to red-shirt everybody if I could, but when your fighting a numbers game we only have 9 scholarship players available to us this year, Alex Thompson being the tenth, we can't afford to red-shirt anybody. So I hope down the road whether it could happen net year, I don't know if we're to that point yet, but I red-shirted several players at Northern Iowa, and we'd like to do the same thing here."

Q: Talk about the top two lottery picks, you've played both, and what's your impression of them, if you were a GM who would you take first?

A: "Well it would all depend on the needs of your particular team. If you had a young back to the basket center in your program, then you'd probably go Kevin Durant, If you had players on the wing who were doing some good things for you and you didn't have a true low post presence then you'd probably go Greg Oden. They are both outstanding players, they both have bright futures ahead of them in the NBA, it's just going to depend on what that team needs at that particular time, but you can't go wrong with either one."

Q: How frustrating does it get that the team plays so well against Kansas, Oklahoma State, and then they have sometimes have those kind of . . . . ?

A: "You can't lose sight over the fact that Missouri played very well, and the game was 39-36 with fourteen minutes to go, and things go away from us for a ten-minute period and it got out of hand. your going to have that on occasion, and I don't think we're preparing any less to play teams with a similar record than ours, I just think our margin for error is small, and if we have  night where we make some mistakes and we don't make shots, or defensively we are not on the same page with one another, then we are going to have  hard time winning no matter who we play. That happened at Texas A&M and we got beat handily at Texas A&M so our guys have done a pretty good job with the preparation that we put in front of them all season long for the most part, and for a young team to do that, that's learning about each other, that's really a credit to them, so I'm proud of the fact that we can go to Texas and make it a game, and go to Ohio State and be in the game for as long as we were, because we are certainly not as talented as those teams but as you mentioned earlier our guys don't quit, and they are not intimidated by anyone or any situation and as a result they just continue to play hard."

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